Things you did wrong professionally in 2018 and how to fix them in 2019

My social media streams are crowded with tales of professional woe during the year that was, immediately followed by vows to do everything differently next year.

A few intrepid souls offered to share their stories, though most asked to keep things anonymous to protect their careers!

The passive/aggressive trap

Jennifer N. wrote in an email: “I let my annoyance at a project (super complicated, lengthy, research-heavy, reference-heavy, scope creeped, not right for me with not near enough pay by FAR) come through in my correspondence with my client. I felt put upon and taken advantage of and completely underpaid and I let it show in my tone and word choice. But that was not HER problem.”

Jennifer realized only too late that because of the aggravation factor, she was starting to lose perspective.

“I thought I was reigning it in a bit, but in retrospect my distaste was loud and clear.” she said. “Also, I somehow thought that by communicating some things – the not enough pay, scope creep, and that I wouldn’t be interested in additional work – it would somehow make it better. It didn’t. I regret not just keeping my mouth shut, finishing whatever was needed and acting more professional.”

Next year’s plan: If you’re feeling resentful, discuss it with a client or colleague, or suck it up and negotiate for better terms the next time. Slowly simmering gets in the way of your doing the best job possible.

Letting the ball drop

J.D. went to a conference in late 2017 and didn’t follow up on any of the one-on-one meetings she had.

“I had no confidence in my pitches.” More than that “I’m wasn’t feeling very confident at all that year. I tried to fake my way through it but had convinced myself that everyone but me belonged there. In a way, I proved myself right, because I didn’t do the follow-up. Only after I started working on a personal passion project was I able to conquer that BS.”

J.D. returned to returned to the conference again this year but had an outlined plan for follow up. “I restored my confidence by being better prepared.”

Next year’s plan: If you think you’re going to fail at something, chances are good that you will. Don’t force yourself into a situation that can’t have a positive outcome. Instead, plan extensively for the next time when you’ll have a better chance to succeed.

Set more achievable goals

Alice L. admitted to having set an unachievable goal for 2018 and that set her up for failure: “When the opportunity presented itself, I had to back out because I was not set up properly to take on the project.”

Alice was devasted but realized that if she wanted to take on a program of that magnitude, she’d have to change her entire way of working.

Next year’s plan: Don’t jump at opportunities simply because they’re there. Figure out goals that are both manageable and also work well with your overall success plan before you leap!

Manage your time well

Publishing industry editor Julie S. held multiple contracts with a publishing house: “A per-book agreement for development editing work, and an imprint management job where I was responsible for streamlining a lot of the publication steps with authors.”

She admits that “I always saw the imprint manager gig as gravy money, and it was a bit of a nuisance because it popped up all over the day and usually ran over the set hours allowed for it every week.”

Julie said, “I didn’t understand my time division well. When the imprint closed unexpectedly, I thought it would be a good thing because now my day was devoted only to the higher paying work.”

She soon lined up a contract with another publisher and thought she’d have more time for freelance projects. What happened instead was that some of the projects proved to be time sucks. Instead of making double the money, she was spending more time on each project and her bottom line suffered. Her solution? She cut out the middleman and launched Mount Everbest, a direct to author subscription membership site.

Next year’s plan: Factor in the actual time you spend on each project. The old adage about not counting your chickens before they’re hatched rings true. Before you say yes to more work or responsibility, try to figure out how many hours you’ll actually need.